This is the breaking-in period (no actual breaking involved, just patience)
It’s been a few months. You moved in together and now you get to witness (and sometimes cringe) at all the little quirks of your new housemate … although this time, the housemate is the house itself. Yep, your new home will start to show you all the endearing noises, nuances, and needs that make it unique. And, if you commit to these needs – and look after your house like your future self is checking your progress – then it can serve you for an unlimited number of years.
There are over 3,000 parts to your house (impressive, right?), and as they start up and learn to work together, it will create some normal wear and tear. Don’t panic. We’re about to run through the main adjustments your house will be making post-move in; this includes some seriously valuable gardening advice … just sayin’.
Let’s dive in.
Drying out and normal cracks (yes, there is such a thing)
In the beginning, your house is wet. This might sound weird, but the materials used to build it contained loads of water and this results in a lot of residual moisture. Over the first six months, your house will dry out, which makes the timber and plaster shrink. Naturally, this means cracks can appear — but don’t panic, they’re normal and not structurally significant.
Electrical troubleshooting (it sounds harder than it is)
Although your picture of the first night in your new home might look like a rom-com moment — sharing champagne and pizza on cushions on the floor — sometimes the reality is a bit less fun, and usually includes a whole lot of adulting.
One job may be fixing electrical problems, as they are common when you first move in. These electrical issues are usually caused by appliances that have developed a fault in the move. If this happens, just plug one appliance in at a time to find out which one’s broken. Don’t panic if the residual current device (RCD) trips as well, it’ll just be some power surges.
Make it green (you’re a plant parent now; it’s a serious gig)
As any plant parent knows, the gardens surrounding your house are a huge part of your lifestyle — where else are you going to chill out on summer days? So, during the first few months post-move in, make sure you get to know your plot of land just as well as your house.
Here’s the first thing you need to know: when you build on reactive soils, your house is more likely to get damaged by soil movement. Reactive soils expand and contract, and can cause cracking in your house. If you find out your home is on reactive soils, just limit the amount of water you use around the house to keep the moisture down.
When you start setting up your yard, you’ll need to grade the ground around the house with a slope of 50mm over the first metre. Make sure surface drains take water away from the house, and never let water lie under the subfloor area. Also, no matter how pretty it’ll look, don’t put any landscaping over weep holes or subfloor vents in brick walls. If you’re wondering what weep holes are then you’re not alone — they’re gaps left in brickwork to let moisture escape.
Let your landscaper know (just kidding, we mean your online landscaping app) that you can’t have any large garden beds right near the house. You’ll have to set aside that area for paths or small bushes.
Be water-wise! Only water your gardens and lawns as much as they need. Even though you think you’re giving the plants lots of love, overwatering may lead to water build-up, and it doesn’t do any favours for the planet. During the hot, dry summer, you’ll have to watch out for underwatering as well though, as your home’s foundation can be damaged when the soil dries up and shrinks.
Trees and Shrubs:
If the trees are too close to the house, the roots can create cracks in the foundation. A rule you can follow is that trees should be planted at a distance from the house that’s equal to their average mature height. Also, avoid planting anything near sewer lines — no need to give details, you can guess why!
Ok, that about covers it.
Now that you know the quirks to expect in the first few months — cracks, electrical, hot water, and gardening — you can get on with getting to know your new home. Go forth and make your mark!